Relaymedia

China Detains U.S. Church Pastors

Police recently arrested four American Christian leaders and dozens of Chinese house church leaders during a fellowship gathering in a northwest province in China.
( [email protected] ) Apr 25, 2007 03:48 PM EDT

Police recently arrested four American Christian leaders and dozens of Chinese house church leaders during a fellowship gathering in a northwest province in China.

The Americans had arrived at Akesu airport in Akesu city, Xinjiang province, on Apr. 17 and started meeting with house church leaders in the region for fellowship on Apr. 18 at a local church family house, reported China Aid Association’s sources on Tuesday.

However, just two days after their arrival, on Apr. 19, China’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) reportedly arrested about 30 Chinese house church leaders who met with the American Christians and detained the Americans.

At the time of the CAA report Tuesday, the four Americans were still behind held in an undisclosed hotel for questioning along with their translator Mr. Jinhong Li from Beijing. China’s PSB officials confiscated the Americans’ luggage from the local church family they were staying with on Monday.

Two of the American Christians are pastors – a senior pastor and an associate pastor of an American church.

According to CAA, the U.S. Embassy is intervening in this case.

Some of the Chinese pastors have already been released since their arrest last week.

Eight Chinese pastors were released on Apr. 20 and at least six others have already received criminal detention papers for 30 days detention, accused of being involved in "evil cult activities," according to CAA sources.

It is feared that the Chinese government may further sentence the six accused pastors to one to three years of re-education through labor because they were previously detained for one month for organizing house church activities several years back.

Eyewitnesses told CAA that at least two of the arrested were seen with bleeding noses and bruises on their faces because of torture during interrogation.

"We urge the Xinjiang authorities to abide with both the Chinese and international laws in respect of religious freedom," said the Rev. Bob Fu, the president of CAA. "These Americans and Chinese Christians have done nothing wrong and the police who are engaging in torture against these Christians are to be held legally and morally responsible for what they have done."

Currently, the Chinese Christian leaders are being held at an Akesu City detention center.